The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits


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“The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits is riveting. The characters are wonderful, the subplots are perfect, and the setting is stunning and well-researched. This series is like a roller coaster that goes up and up – the Mannings are literary gold.”

-QL Pearce, bestselling author of over 100 books, inlcuding the Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs series and film tie-in books for the Fox animated film Titan AE and the Universal animated series Land Before Time.

Christmas Spirits is available now on AMAZON.

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Real-Life Holiday Horrors



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(Pawpurrazzi aka Stalker Kitty, sticking her tongue out at me)

Hello, all,

It’s been a good – but very busy – season, complete with all the nerve-rattling, teeth-grinding fiascos we’ve come to expect from the holidays. This year, however, my dithers and dilemmas were not of the usual variety. I learned some things… and I’d like to spread the knowledge…

My feline companion, Pawpurrazzi, has reached the age when they say you should have them spayed… so I made an appointment and took her in. The surgery went well, and the next day I picked her up… a perfectly simple act which spawned a mind-boggling string of theatrics that  left me with cuts, bruises, and a possibly permanent embittered scowl. Oh yes… there was drama to be had…

In the parking lot, as we strode merrily back to the car, the kitty went into some kind of shock. She looked at me and her eyes were strange. Somehow I could tell she didn’t recognize me. Not at all. She panicked very suddenly, clawed herself free of me, and ran as fast and far away as she could. I chased after her, staying close behind and finally cornering her in a stairwell behind the clinic where she sought refuge.

When I caught up to her, I was winded, but I slowed my breathing, not wanting to scare her any more than she already apparently was. Her eyes still had the wild glint of survival mode in them, and she began jumping, easily eight feet high, trying – and failing – to get out of the well… and away from me. I would gently tip-toe down the stairs toward her, I decided. And whisper her name as I delicately approached.

It was then that I slipped and took a violent and undignified spill down the ice-covered steps. My flailing, arm-waving, leg-kicking, 90 mile per hour, hair-whipping-in-the-wind descent down the stairs somehow only startled and confused her more. She puffed up, darted past me, and had disappeared before I even finished off my first, and only, vibrato F-bomb.

The guilt was heavy though, and I returned to the clinic, this time with two friends assisting in the search. Three, if you count a dear cat-loving friend I had on the phone who gave me much excellent cat-advice. I was certain the kitty was gone though, and I was feeling grim to put it lightly.

After about twenty or thirty minutes, though, we found her in a thicket of dead bush branches near a fence at the edge of the property. She’s a very talkative kitty, and we heard her before we saw her. When she poked her head out, I snatched her up, expecting the same uncharacteristic craziness of earlier, but by then, she was back to herself, purring gleefully, washing my face and combing my hair with her tongue. She was genuinely happy to see me, and no doubt eager to be home.

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(After my shoulder or the top of my head, this is Stalker Kitty’s favorite post)

I tell this story because I committed a cat-owner no-no, and I hope to reduce some of my guilt by possibly preventing another cat daddy or mommy from making the same mistake. Pawpurrazzi is the first cat I’ve had as an adult, and until this debacle, I’d forgotten the vast differences between cats and dogs. Cats are far less domesticated than dogs, and they slip into feral mode pretty quickly. I knew they weren’t entirely tame and I had a harness on her when I dropped her off, but the vet had to take it off for the surgery. When I paid the bill, they handed me the cat, then the harness, and I didn’t bother putting it on her. I reasoned it was a mere ten steps from the exit to the car… what could go wrong?

I have a new rule now: Never take kitty anywhere without a crate. And a harness. It seems harsh to confine them this way, but not as harsh as the other potential issues. If I’d never found her, she’d be wandering around in the cold with stitches in that need to come out in ten days. These would have become infected more than likely, and eventually, it could kill her.  Plus, some cats might survive well outdoors, but Pawpurrazzi isn’t one of them. Wherever it was she came from on that fateful day that she appeared stalking me and meowing at my window, it wasn’t from the wild. Someone domesticated her… and then apparently lost her, deserted her, or dropped her off somewhere. So, she might have found someone else and conned them into adopting her like she did me, but what if she didn’t find a good person? What if they took her to the pound? I can’t stand to think of it…

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(Sven, watching over Pawpurrazzi while she heals)

So… my adventures and lessons in feline fatherhood continue. As I write this, Pawpurrazzi is perched on my shoulder, showing her forgiveness by rubbing her purring head along the edges of my jaw, an activity that I’ve learned means something happy and positive. I assume she was somewhat traumatized by the experience at the vet clinic, and have since learned that these kinds of reactions are not entirely uncommon. In hindsight, it wasn’t smart of me to assume she would be content after something like that, but I’m happy to report that she’s healing happily at home… and we are friends again…

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(Kitty in the window)

Take pity. Crate the kitty.

Yours,

AC~

Scary Christmas to All…


Merry Christmas morning everyone. It is after five a.m. here and I’ve been up all night wrapping gifts while Pawpurrazzi – my feline accomplice – pawed at the tape dispenser, played in the curtains, and finally fell into a peaceful slumber on my lap.

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I’ve heard the stores on Christmas Eve are a frenzied mess, and yesterday, I found those rumors to be true. I spent a deplorable hour or two squeezing through the cluster of shoppers only to find that everything I was looking for was already sold out. I have never gone shopping the day before Christmas before, and of this I’m certain: I never will again. I despise stores enough as it is, but unfortunately, I was completely unprepared for the holidays this year. It’s been terribly busy with writing, getting the Alistair Cross website up, and dealing with a backlog of general marketing events.  But, for my Christmas Eve gifts – a tradition we observe every year – I received the American Horror Story: Asylum series on DVD – which I am a huge fan of – and some much-needed new household items, and some of my favorite cologne… so that soothed my mood a little. Plus, I am excited to see what I get tomorrow.

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2013 has been a year of erratic twists and unforeseen changes of direction that have, to my surprise, served to bring me greater overall happiness. I had unforgettable adventures this year and I learned things about myself and my work that have already proven themselves priceless. I’ve made amazing friends, seen fascinating places, grown substantially as a writer, and discovered that contentment and fulfillment are readily available… and – thankfully – portable. It’s been a wonderful year and I can’t say I’d change anything about it.

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2014 will hopefully be as good. If all goes according to my Master Plan, the new year will see the publication of Grandma’s Rack, the humorously horrific novel I began with Tamara Thorne several months ago, as well as the beginning of Belinda the serialized erotica she and I will begin shortly after the new year, and hopefully, the completion of The White Room, my solo project about a lusty faction of insatiable vampires and their fang-banging human counterparts. So… the workload continues… but I believe it will be well worth the effort…

I wish all of you a very merry – and somewhat scary – Christmas, and a fulfilling new year.

AC~